Thinking without language?

Tom Holroyd tomh at po.crl.go.jp
Sun Nov 21 22:42:18 EST 1999


> >>You missed my point. I understand that one can think about multiple
> >>things at once. But one can't be moving one's mouth so as to form
> >>different utterances simultaneously.

Try this:

Say "eeee" and hold your mouth in that position.  Now, think the sound
"oooh".  Did your lips move?  It's fairly easy to train oneself not to
move, but there is a tendency for the mouth to move when "thinking" of
these basic phonemes.  It's also easier to think of "oooh" if you allow
your mouth to move into an "oooh" shape.

All this shows is that the brain has some learned automatisms for
pronouncing common phonemes.  Use of language during thought is another.
Mathematicians have trained themselves to think in altogether different
ways.

``For instance, take the two words "fuming" and "furious."  Make up your
mind that you will say both words, but leave it unsettled which you will
say first.  Now open your mouth and speak.  If your thoughts incline ever
so little towards "fuming," you will say "fuming-furious;" if they turn,
by even a hair's breadth, towards "furious," you will say
"furious-fuming;" but if you have the rarest of gifts, a perfectly
balanced mind, you will say "frumious."''
				-- Humpty-Dumpty

Rilchiam






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